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Second Biennial Hearing Aid Research and Development Conference

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September 22-24, 1997
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, Maryland

Differences in Consonant Recognition Abilities Among Listeners with Similar Hearing Loss

Peggy B. Nelson and Sally G. Revoile, University of Maryland School of Medicine and Gallaudet University

Articulation Index (AI) theory suggests that signal audibility generally predicts listeners' speech recognition performance. Nevertheless, differences in speech recognition abilities among listeners with hearing loss have been documented. The current study investigated variables contributing to differences in consonant recognition among listeners with similar degrees of hearing loss. The variables included listeners' hearing thresholds, auditory experience, and frequency discimination abilities. Twenty-five listeners with moderate to severe hearing losses were tested for their identification of /b, d, w, j/ in spoken consonant-vowel (CV) syllables. The CVs were unmodified or had consonant murmur/ bursts deleted, and were presented at listeners' most comfortable level (MCL). Listeners were divided into two groups based on self-reported educational and amplification history. Thirteen listeners were classified as having extensive auditory experience based on their early use of amplification and attendance at auditory/oral schools; the other twelve were classified as having limited auditory experience due to their use of sign language at home and school. Degree of hearing loss and MCL were similar between the groups. Analysis of variance revealed that listeners with extensive auditory experience made significantly fewer consonant recognition errors than did listeners with limited experience (p < .05). Hierarchical log-linear analysis revealed a significant group by stimulus by response interaction (p < .05), suggesting that the distribution of errors differed between groups. Inexperienced listeners made significantly more errors when identifying consonant-deleted /w/ and /j/ stimuli than did experienced listeners. These results demonstrate that factors other than signal audibility significantly affected consonant recognition performance.

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